Book relives the horror of Sheffield hurricane

Sheffield Hallam University lecturer Susan Elliot Wright, who based part of her debut novel on the storms which ripped through the city in February, 1962.
Sheffield Hallam University lecturer Susan Elliot Wright, who based part of her debut novel on the storms which ripped through the city in February, 1962.
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The scenes of devastation after part of Oklahoma City in America was flattened by a hurricane have shocked thousands of people.

But the images might have struck a chord with some people closer to home – those who were around for the freak weather storm which ripped through Sheffield on a February night in 1962.

And it is this storm which is the inspiration behind a writer’s debut novel.

First-time author Susan Elliot Wright has set part of her book, The Things We Never Said, in Sheffield at a time when 96mph winds killed three people, left others homeless and caused damage to two-thirds of its buildings.

The 54-year-old was born in south-east London, but moved to the Steel City in 2005 to study for an MA at Sheffield Hallam University.

After researching the Great Sheffield Hurricane, she felt compelled to use the event to string together her tale of love and loss.

Susan, who lives in Highfield, Sheffield, said: “I was looking into the history of Sheffield and I found it really interesting.

“There were accounts from people who remember the night.

“I’ve tried to put in places and things I hope people in Sheffield will recognise.

“When I first moved, I lived in Hillsborough and thought I was going mad one day when I could smell liquorice.

“Later I found out it was the Bassett factory – I’ve included that in the novel.

“The idea was my husband and I were going to move back after my MA, but we both fell in love with the city and wanted to stay.”

The Things We Never Said follows the story of Maggie, who wakes in a mental asylum in 1964 with the memory of the storm swirling in her head.

It interweaves her tale with Jonathan’s, a modern day character grieving for his father.

Publishers Simon and Schuster UK said there is already a huge buzz around the Hallam lecturer’s novel.

Waterstones in Orchard Square, Sheffield city centre, is hosting a launch event tomorrow, at 6.30pm.

Susan said: “It’d be great to meet some people who were witness to the storms, hopefully they’ll be able to relate to the book.”